I took a few technical writing courses at Iowa State University to complete my English degree in 2016. English 542: Seminar in Technical Communication taught by Geoffrey Sauer had an assignment to produce a cover for an ePub. The above image was my first attempt.
I was mostly happy with it, and it’s a pretty decent proof-of-concept, but I think I could have done better given more time (isn’t that always the case?). I wasn’t really happy with the author name area, since it doesn’t have the feeling of a real cabinet card. I think I’d need to learn calligraphy to get that right though.
Here’s what I wrote about my design choices at the time:
My idea for my covers is to do a series of them. Some time back I registered the domain somedarkplace.com and I intend to write a series of interconnected short stories illustrated with vintage photos. It is my intention to eventually look into publishing these stories under the title of “Some Dark Place” with each story being a fictitious name for each person in the photos.
One of the minor challenges is I will need to come up with a style guide for how I do the covers, as I will want them to look good together and be of uniform dimension and size (even if my images are not).
I did the majority of the work in an image editing program called “Acorn” (I am including the original Acorn files in case you have this). Acorn is by no means a Photoshop replacement, but I am trying to move away from a dependence on Adobe products. I’ve used Acorn previously, but mostly just to crop images and save them for web. This is my first attempt at using it to actually design anything.
I took each image and decided how best I could make a design that complimented the image. I originally intended to use the photo in “Scan 39” as my cover, but did not have it in class. I was fairly happy with the design I produced using “Scan 32.” I only really needed to tweak the size.
Final output for these images would be for web and ePub only. If I were going one for print I would consider breaking outside the bounds of the actual image for my text.
I was going for a “gothic horror” style and looked at quite a few covers in the genre before starting on my project.
One of the best things about being forced to work on projects that have been percolating for years is you finally get your ass in the chair! Deadlines mean you have to get it done instead of just thinking about it, and the best thing I got out of Sauer’s class was a kick in the ass as far as web technologies. I have always been a one man shop. I do the designing, writing, the coding, the CMS and site hosting configurations, and anything else you can think of. It’s hard to stay on top of web technologies: CSS, HTML5, CMSes, responsive and accessible design, and a changing internet landscape. I’d pretty much given up. Now I am excited again, and have been for a while.
And because I am either an overachiever, or someone who sucks at directions, I made two covers. I’ll post the other soon, and I’ll probably end up making more, but I thought I would share this one. I’ve changed up the idea for this site a bit since my original concepts, and I imagine it’ll grow into something beyond what I originally intended. Stick around, and I hope you enjoy the ride.
You can see my second cover here: Second Cover.